CHARLESTON -- Under newly elected Board of Directors Chairman Thomas Flaherty, BrickStreet soon might find itself expanding to serve customers in other states.

One of Flaherty's plans as chairman is to begin providing workers' compensation insurance to West Virginia companies that have branches in other states.

"We've got West Virginia employers who have branches in Kentucky and Virginia," Flaherty said. "We're going to branch out from West Virginia on a cautious basis."

While it will still only serve West Virginia employers, the company may find itself granting coverage to workers in neighboring states, Flaherty said.

Flaherty was elected to chairman of BrickStreet's board of directors Jan. 19 and will serve a one-year term. At the end of his term, Flaherty's fellow board members will decide whether to re-elect him to the position.

Flaherty succeeds H. Skip Tarasuk of Davis & Tarasuk Insurance in Fairmont. Tarasuk, who served as chairman for the first three years of BrickStreet's existence, decided not to seek re-election but is still serving a role on the agent advisory committee, Flaherty said.

BrickStreet began in 2006 as West Virginia's first and only private workers' compensation company.

In July, other private insurance companies were allowed to compete with BrickStreet to sell workers' compensation insurance to private companies. Since then, BrickStreet has laid off some workers, but is doing better than expected.

"It's doing very well in the competitive market," Flaherty said. "We expected to lose competitive share. Fortunately, we've maintained competitive share well in excess of 70 percent."

The competition was something BrickStreet had been anticipating for months, and the resulting good fortune of the company showed its preparations.

"That indicates to us that all the planning we did prepared us to compete," Flaherty said.

Flaherty feels BrickStreet's relations with its customers will help it to stay competitive.

"Our business team structure ensures us a policy team holder will work with a business directly," he said. "They'll know them on a first-name basis."

As board chairman, Flaherty will work closely with BrickStreet President Greg Burton to chart strategic direction for the company.

His other duties include monitoring the current state of the company and setting policy.

Among his plans for the company, Flaherty hopes to work closely with West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane L. Cline to continue prepaying on BrickStreet's surplus note.

Flaherty is not new to the board of directors. He was one of the original governor-appointed members and was elected to a second four-year term in October.

He also chaired the nominating committee and the governance committee.

Throughout his 35-year legal career, Flaherty has worked as a workplace liability attorney. That job has helped with his work on the board of directors and will continue to be of assistance in his new role as chairman, he said.

"I think I bring a perspective as a lawyer that is helpful," he said. "We've got a board that everybody brings a skill set that we think helps us be successful."

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